After Jane‘s shocking revelation at the end of season 4, Rizzoli & Isles is finally back – and with a new showrunner, to boot. Read on for our recap of Rizzoli & Isles 5×1, “A New Day”:
Rizzoli & Isles 5×1 centers on the murder of a recent divorcée and the kidnapping of her baby. The investigators question the woman’s ex-husband and his girlfriend, who present an alibi that seems to place them out of town. Next, a local pedophile comes under suspicion. He is ultimately cleared, but not before the detectives reveal his shady side business and the fact that he lives right next to a playground. Who else cheered when Jane arrested him for violating his parole?
Meanwhile, Maura‘s analysis of the victim’s wounds makes her realize the killer was female and the murder was personal. This leads Jane and the team back to the ex-husband’s girlfriend. The discovery that the victim wanted full custody of her son strengthens the case against the couple, as does the fact that the ex-girlfriend’s alibi doesn’t hold up. The team determines that she committed the murder and the baby was abandoned shortly thereafter, only to be found by a local homeless woman. They arrest the ex-husband and his girlfriend, track down the homeless woman and finally retrieve the baby.
Finding A Balance
In the past, this show has struggled to strike a balance between the crime of the week and the often soap opera-esque developments in the characters’ personal lives. Rizzoli & Isles 5×1 was the first effort of new executive producer Jan Nash, who replaced former showrunner Janet Tamaro after four seasons. We think Nash got off on the right foot. In the past, the crimes tended to be simplified in order to make room for the drama du jour, but this week’s case was sufficiently complex and fleshed out.
That being said, the episode certainly didn’t suffer from a lack of personal turmoil. In the closing seconds of season 4, Jane revealed that she was pregnant by former flame Casey. The first scenes of Rizzoli & Isles 5×1 establish the pregnancy as a theme for the season: Jane has a nightmare that offsets her career with motherhood, then she and Maura discuss the effects pregnancy will have on her body, but stop abruptly when Jane’s mother Angela enters the room. As the episode progresses, Angela begins to suspect Jane is pregnant, and eventually weasels a confirmation out of Maura.
The kiss Maura shared with Jane’s brother Frankie toward the end of last season is also addressed after their awkward dynamic makes Jane suspicious. They end up agreeing that they see each other as siblings – albeit siblings with very soft lips.
The third personal element in Rizzoli & Isles 5×1 is considerably sadder. At the end of the episode, the team receives word that one of their own – Detective Barry Frost – was in a fatal car accident. Unfortunately, this particular plot twist came about as a result of last August’s tragic news that the actor who played Frost, Lee Thompson Young, had killed himself at the age of 29.
Speaking to TV Guide, showrunner Jan Nash explained the decision to write Frost out of the series.
We had to deal with it in a real and concrete way. We couldn’t just say Barry Frost went on vacation and occasionally talk about how much fun he was having or give him a new job in a new city. That would feel icky. We realized that we had to have the character die so we could deal with that loss the same way the people on the show had dealt with Lee’s loss. What comes with that is we had to make sure we were not being [exploitative] and we were honoring his memory appropriately … and I think we all feel as a collective that we, to the best of our abilities, accomplished that.
Det. Frost’s memorial service will be featured in Rizzoli & Isles 5×2, “Goodbye,” which airs next Tuesday.